Monday, December 21, 2015

The Stone

From a gravestone in a deep S. Indiana woods. Forgotten. Overgrown, animal infested, broken in half and lying on the frozen ground. From the 1820s.

Remember me as you pass by. 
As you are now so once was I. 
As I am now you too will be. 
Prepare for death and follow me. 

In the academic world in a past life, I used to watch the egocentric professors wear their pride and achievements and presence on their sleeves like post WWII Russian veterans with their breasts full of medals. Look how great I am. Look at my knowledge. Look at my achievements. Look at how significant I am.
    In the evenings, I would walk the nearby graveyard and look at the weathered names on the stones. What were you like, person? What did you do? Maybe you were one of these professors once. One weathered stone looks as another. 

Now a long forgotten name on a stone and nothing else. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Why to Work?

Develop a secure network of realtors and clients, and prepare to become exceedingly, even exceptionally wealthy as a Home Inspector. 

Paraphrased from N. G., How to Run a Successful Home Inspection Business (2015 ed.; Boulder CO: IACHI, 2009).

In contrast, the following quote recently heard on a 'world news' broadcast from several weeks ago: "she works to live rather than living to work."  

How about instead of the primary motive for working being to get exceptionally wealthy, the primary motives rather being to work well at a job and hence to seek to protect the client's financial interest before protecting one's own behind or fattening the avaricious, never sufficient-to-be-filled pocketbook? 

Meanwhile; the rows and rows and rows of persons standing in lines at their fave convenience store hoping for the 1.5 billion in the recent lottery. Every night the obligatory interviews of the hopeless hoping, of any age -- even those standing on and over the grave's precipice -- grinning and clutching their tickets, "it's gonna be me! I jes' know i's gonna be me this time. . .”Then, post hoc, the similarly obligatory interviews with the cursed who express their disbelief at being so lucky and laying out how many homes they will buy and what cars and what possessions, charities, friends & family, etc. etc.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


I did not grow up with a facebook or a phone glued to my face or ears. When communicating with people, I was taught to put down whatever occupied attention, look a person in the eyes, and speak. Back in the era of corded phones, it was difficult to impossible to be half listening to someone while doing something else if only because the phone was mounted on that wall, or the cord was not long enough.

More importantly, I learned that on time means five minutes early and that when I say I will do something that it shall be done in a timely and thorough manner. If you think that I am uppity in this conviction and that not doing these things in any manner is a better way, then YOU ARE WRONG and that is that! Go your way. I'll go mine. Amen, and pass the potato salad.  

The familiar Godfather statement that, "it's not personal; it's just business" is false. Everything is personal. I believe that to be late for an appointment or to not communicate when communicated with is a sign of disrespect. As a businessman but even more so as a person, I do not think I am so important as to fill my life with appointments or schedules or making money or this'es or thats in lieu of giving quality attention, respect, and personal service to whomever I am dealing with at the moment. High or low (HA!), monied or not. Whether or not you are going to make me money or promote my business, magnify my wonderful name, or the like. 

Now, occasionally I deal with persons in a professional context whom are slovenly in their transactions with others. Late. Overly concerned with their own liability. Good old boy familiar. Unwilling to pay what is owed. Rude. Focused on making money and steamrollering or blowing off whomever gets in the way. 
   Most of the time, the transaction moves along and things resolve themselves and each party goes their way. For repeat interactions, thankfully word gets around and realtors and customers who are this way can choose another service provider. 

What you shall get with DPI. On time. Thorough inspecting and reporting. Overly thorough, intended to protect your sight unto the massive financial commitment that you are preparing to lay out for a property. Punctual reports. Respectful, professional communication. Maybe a little humor in the report about vegetable crops growing out of your gutters or rats and the overzealous wild-eyed pursuit of their destruction. But do not even think for a moment that this humor is at the expense of caring about protecting your financial outlay for the property at hand. . .

Monday, June 29, 2015

Seventh Grade Rock Climbing

Living back east in the tedious flatlands as a child, for some reason enrolled in a rock climbing class. Learned ropes, knots, rappelling, and other relevant things. Past that class, the sport and the material never continued as other pastimes, occupations, and distractions had their way. Occasionally would use a knot or a carabineer for this or that use, but nothing more.

But now, a resurgence. How? Why?

What I have found in inspecting structures is that standing on the ground with binocs or a good camera does not do justice to being up and personal with the roof. We have had inspectors that would not get up on roofs, fearing for their safety. (Both roofs to me very accessible though a tad high.) The difference between seeing the chimney at one foot away v. many tens of feet. Looking down the chimney when possible. Seeing the aging of the roof, siding, windows. How the builders fit the components together. Slovenly or competent. The attention to detail or not.

Now before an inspection, I do everything possible to ascertain what the roof is like. How steep. What material. On Astoria’s particularly crazy steep roofs of three or four storeys, I like to take recon trips and figure out how to gain the summit. That awning to that level, then over to there. Up that valley to the ridge to the chimney. What ladders and gear will it take?  

A wood roof in wet weather? Rather than pulling a Nancy R. and “just saying no!”; looking to see if there is yet a way. And often making it happen.

On game day, when the top is attained, seeking an anchor point to temporarily secure a rope for the descent. Monkeying around getting the close ups and the pics for the report. Since going up is easier than down, the rope necessary for safety and stability. Kind of a half rappel to get back to the ladder point. Camera in one hand, rope in the other. Other tools out as needed. Often the best views in town, on those roofs. And peaceful, early in the morn before most people are up.

Never thought a seventh grade rock climbing class would have subsequent benefit. But it has, though it took years to reveal its wisdom.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

I Tought I Taw A Puddy TAT!

Tillamook surround, out in the country. Misty morning. Mild. There's something about the beauty of that place. The peace. Calm. The way the clouds wreath the surrounding hills in the morning. The milk trucks coming by every once and a while.

Finished on schedule. Time for the fun-finale, the crawl space. This crawl I had bad feelings about cause the vent hatches were uncovered though blocked and one block was ajar with fur on the edge. 

Underneath, looked across the way and saw two shiny EYEBALLS. Then four. But wait! In an instant, the recognition of things known, things good. 

The residents, pics following. 

                                   Can you see me? 

Scared little ones. I had to work hard to get them to settle down in a corner. Then making friends as well as possible in a nasty dark crawl space with what must look to them like this alien monster with yellow rubber dishwash gloves, respirator, goggles, rubber suit, etc. I handed them out the vent to the purchaser-to-be and he took them into what must be their first human contact. The purchaser was glad to have and keep them; his eight year old daughter would be ecstatic.

Fare well, little ones. . .  May God the One Lord give you a safe, happy life in the home above your birthplace. 

. . .

Update on one of the little ones. 


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Home Maintenance, Cost, Sui-Energos

Most inspectors claim that every structure has issues that need to remedied. Even new(er) structures. And if there were a perfect structure, it would not remain so for long.

Since every individual is unique in terms of knowledge, desire to save money, abilities, time that is available, an attitude of rolling up his/her sleeves and figuring out and then fixing something themselves, each person will approach different negative issues in their structure with different attitudes. From hopelessness. Desire to escape. Anger. No time (!). Eagerness to get started, etc.

[[By the way, sui is the old Latin reflexive pronoun for "self." Sui-cide = self caedo, or self-slaying, etc.
Energos is an ancient Greek word for work or power. Energos, to the modern energy. . .)
So sui-energos = self-effort or self-energy!]]

In the 1980s, I knew nothing about anything home related. But then I needed to put in a 4X4 post to bolster an awning over a deck. Drilling concrete? Huh!? Is this even possible? Setting a mount. Leveling. . . Then it was putting on a roof for a friend. And slowly the knowledge and confidence grew. . . (Drywall application is still a bane -- not very good at this!) 

Now, what to do in spare time for leisure and even recreation? Fix things. Drill concrete! Put up siding. Whatever! What is not known -- to figure out. Find someone who knows and ask. You Tube videos. Etc. The desire to save money has always at the bottom driven this mindset. But so has an attitude that plumbing or electrical or whatever can't be rocket science. And they aren't! 

So here is a mathematical formula for those so inclined. . .

x= desire to save money
y= an attitude of not taking no for an answer
z= a bit of an adventurous mindset
z'= a love of seeing projects completed that are done well (most of the time!), with the satisfaction of sui-energos (doing them myself). 
z''= a love of tools to help do a/the job correctly

(2x + y z + z')z" = learning a whole lot, exponentially increasing the value of a property, and having FUN in the process! And this can be a mathematical formula FOR YOU TOO!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Matrix

What is it with people pathologically and incessantly needing to toot their own horns? To pat themselves on the back? To show others how good, great, how other they are over and above other persons?

Jack has an associate’s degree at a Community College. He took a job in this field and has worked in it for many years. Over the years, Jack has purchased subscriptions in organizations that offer continuing education and certifications and diplomas in various aspects pertaining to his field. Most of these certifications and diplomas are dependent on “time spent” in various classroom or on-line course environments. Do the time, get the certification. Some credentials have had test standards that needed a minimum passing measurable score; most did not. Jack is the type of person who wears himself on his sleeve for all to see, marvel, and behold. When he communicates, he puts many unknown abbreviations after his name. When teaching and speaking, he includes a full list of qualifications which has now become over a full page long and which he laboriously enumerates to introduce himself. He frequently reminds people of his abilities and qualifications, just in case they may need to be reminded. When they do not need to be reminded. See Jack run. See Jack throw.

In contrast to Jack’s occupational steadiness, Janine has had a wildly varied background. An poor-average student in grammar school, her instructor’s put her in lower level courses. They mistook her “ping pong ball in a metal box” inattentiveness for inability. She graduated from high school at an eighth to ninth grade level in most subjects. College for Janine?! Ha and Ha! She moved in several false start directions, likely due to her distractedness and being easily bored with pursuits that were for her easily boreable. Like Jack, Janine was mouthy and quick to point out her own attributes in her earlier years. But over time, this changed to tight lipped silence about herself. She became unvoiced, observant. Janine eventually did migrate back to educational pursuits, finishing four year degrees in pure science, another in education, and then graduate degrees in other far-differing subjects. Janine the special education student quietly became Dr. Janine in some obscure field. But the high academic life never fit. Felt like size six ungies on a size twenty waist. She turned from that direction as quickly as from so many other directions and distractions of the past.
Janine moved to Minneapolis because that was where her heart lay. She could only find work in the service industry. This was ok with her. Eventually through pure chance Janine became a high rise window cleaner. Who would, could have imagined? This occupation was good for Janine – what she loved doing; what made her spirit soar. She would be up many stories on high rise office buildings, watching people as she cleaned her windows. Hanging over open space many stories from the concrete. Thinking. Watching. Working. The wildness; height, wind, weather, the intense unreality; the Godness of the whole scene and how it fit her uniquely. Some, many of the people in the glass interiors of her buildings are the accomplished of Minneapolis' business sector. If noticed at all, they glance at her before moving on to their tasks at hand. With no care of who is washing the windows on the far side. On the one side, Jack the Important. On the other, Janine the nobody. One great. The other, chaff. 

Pretence accomplishes nothing. Few are deceived by a mask that is easily drawn over the face. Seneca, AD 64. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Feline Imperative

Today a well-maintained 1960 in the Tilly countryside. Owners gone as is most often the case, doing the inspection solum. Low and behold, a kitty kat on the bed looking at me with a mixture of curiosity and fear. Immediately I focus on winning his (as I find out his gender later) confidence and soothing what must be a fearful scene having some strange person invading his domain. After a minute or two, IT WORKS! He is letting me love on him, though hesitantly. Soon I am his pal. Then later I get to meet his sister, cowered under the bed. After a few more minutes, she is rolling around purring and letting me love her too. The owners come home, and are hugely surprised to find that their kids had warmed up to me in this way. They assure that their kitties do not let anyone near them! Wow!

What amazing fringe benefits this job has to offer. . .

Friday, April 3, 2015

More on the Infernum: Crawl Spaces. . .

Today a farm in the country.

Huge barn; workshop, house that has had about four additions over the years since the 1920s.

Then the crawlspace. Two of them because of the add ons.

The second space, crawling and rolling along. . . What the heck is that. Getting closer. Huh?! What?

A dead, dessicated doe lying there in the back corner! Bigger than a large dog. Not full grown. Somehow this thing got in the space under the house and for whatever reason could not get out. Bones. Skin. That's it. Oh manno.

Crawl spaces. . .

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Crawl Space Spider Coolness


When I first started this occupation, I could scarcely tolerate crawlspaces. They were creepy, but a person needs to do what a person needs to do. When first moving into homes that I bought, I would always worm my way into the crawl and lay the plastic and check things out and so forth. Not fun, but a person needs to do. . .

Over time, things have changed a bit. Now it is sort of fun to get into crawlspace-dive mode. Alright crawlspace, what fun things are you laying out for me here? Mud. Ugly access. Coons or worse? Electrical? Whatever. BRING IT ON! 

One of the things I have come to think as interesting if not downright cool are the spiders that lurk in these places. Consider the following pictures, from Garibaldi. What is it with Garibaldi and nasty-crawl spaces? Is this what "garibaldi" means in ancient North Coastal Indian dialect -- "Garibaldi": (n) nasty crawl space? 

Mummified spiders in second pic below. Probably from a bigger, tougher, or smaller and more cunning spider. Very interesting. . . 

First, a cool salamander or something upon entry. 

Next, spiders killed and mummified by their arenaic (spiderian) peers. . . Look how they are white as snow, frozen in space and time.

The likely protagonists, here. . .

Ok, enough spideys for the moment. This is why I wear raingear and full face protection in the crawl spaces. There is enough to WRASTLE around in the space to need to worry about some little spider critter wanting a ride outside. . .

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Pit Next Door

Inspected an old 1940s structure recently. A real mess. 

Downhill, next door just a foot or two away from the property line, these two fellows were in a 10' deep pit setting the foundation forms for their new structure.

My structure had a collapsing foundation on the entire side of the pit next door. . . Seriously cracked concrete everywhere. The adjoining shed also had a concrete pad that was dropping away on the side where the pit was. 

Conclusion: the pit that these fellows had recently dug caused (or aggravated) the structure and property that I was inspecting to drop away. 

Oh boy -- talk about the Money Pit.  But it sure did have a nice view of the ocean. . .

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Boundary Lines Materialize

“Show me what you stand for by the enemy standing opposite you. Anyone can speak words that stroke the ears and that multiply so-called friends. A person is rather defined by the enemies that he makes.” –CFL. 1994.

English is a product of many various languages. A strong personal interest is the study of word meanings and changes with time, known as etymology. Etymology is from two old Greek words, etumos (true, real, actual, genuine) and logia/logos (~word). Consider the English words trunk. Or gay, virtual, web. What they used to mean; what they mean now. How they evolved to their present meanings.  
Anyway, back in the school yard days, I learned the German word Trost. This word meant in older German comfort or consolation. The meaning over time has not changed, perhaps add solace. To trösten someone is to console, comfort, sooth, or cheer her.

Consider the various ways of comforting a person. A person with a fatal or harmful malady could be “comforted” by being told that s/he has nothing wrong with him/her; that in fact this person is in recoverable health. I have read countless examples of this by soldiers on the battlefields of the Eastern Front in WWII. A fatal wound. Life is flowing out of a person. The comrade tells the doomed that he is going to survive. The problem with this type of Trost is that it is not true. This comfort salves primarily the speaker and not the person in need of consolation.

Another way to comfort a person is to speak the truth. To prepare him for the inevitable future. To relay to that person what can truly help him succeed or pass an obstacle.

To the drowning person: “Here, take this life jacket (though I know there is a hole in it). It will help you float until you are found and picked up. Everything shall be ok. . .” Versus, “Take this life jacket that I know has integrity. Hold to it; it shall save you for a time until you may be picked up.”

One, false Trost. The other, true.

One inspection, a house with serious problems. Thousands upon thousands of dollars. Approximately $150,000 to get this structure in a minimum shape of safety and wholeness since it has foundation, structural, electrical, plumbing, and serious moisture issues that need addressing. Add to this that the seller is related to the listing agent! Oh my. Add to the political volatility: the listing agent refers the inspection/inspector for the potential buyers! A tangled web, this one! What sort of Trost does this listing agent seek? To not say so much to make the sale, or say the truth and risk the sale? Back to one of the early posts in this blog: what ethical motivation drives any given person in a given action? Egoistic, usually centered on greed, or also power, image, prestige, needing to succeed? In diametric opposition to a deontological motivation (doing what is necessary, proper, or right) regardless of the consequences. . .

How would this turn out for a good-old-boy-network inspector whom the listing agent knows will downplay issues and say what will promote the sale? Positively. How will this turn out for the inspector who sees the deficiencies in the structure and honestly and plainly reports the truth? Hmm.

This story ends inevitably: the messenger is killed (rejected) for the message. The agent henceforth disdains this inspector based on the results. Oh well, and SO WHAT!! For there must be a boundary between those who present false consolation from those who would speak the truth. Better a dollar earned honestly than a fortune gained at an angle. For this property, one form of Trost would put a bandage over a grievous wound and call it trivial to the financial distress if not ruin of the buyers. Another would speak the truth, come what may. And if business and reputation suffer, then this be stoically if not cheerfully embraced.